How Do I Know If Ground Beef Is Bad?

Ground beef is an excellent option for a variety of dinner options. Even the pickiest of eaters will likely find something that ground beef can cover—burgers, lasagna, taco night, etc.

However, your refrigerator won’t keep ground beef indefinitely, and you definitely don’t want to serve up spoiled meat. Every kitchen, whether it is commercial or domestic, should always put a priority on preventing food-borne illnesses.

Don’t worry, there are usually plenty of easy-to-miss indicators that your beef should just be thrown away as well as a few failsafe choices to keep you and your family safe. So, how do you know whether or not your recently purchased ground beef has become unsafe to eat?

Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Smell and visually examine at your ground beef, and if it’s brown or an off odor, those could be signs that your ground beef is spoiled. Always remember — when in doubt, throw it out!

What will bad ground beef smell like?

Spoiled ground beef will have a pungent, putrid smell. Generally, ground beef that is safe to eat has little to no odor.

Can ground beef smell a little but not expired?

All ground beef has a slight aroma of iron. While the smell of ground beef getting close to its expiration date may be slightly more noticeable, it is still safe to eat. However, a product should be thrown away if it has a strong, noticeable odor because it is probably spoiled.

Is it OK to cook grey ground beef?

It is typical for the outside of a package of ground beef to be red or pink, while the interior may be grey or brown. This is brought on by a deficiency in oxygen in the beef’s center.

However, if the outside of the ground beef is grey, it should not be cooked or eaten and should be thrown away.

Ground beef is very popular but highly perishable.

You can tell if your ground beef has gone bad using a few easy methods, such as observing changes in color, odor, and texture.

Despite the fact that the bacteria that cause meat to spoil are typically not harmful, when it goes bad, other disease-causing microorganisms may proliferate. You should always thoroughly cook meat and stay away from consuming undercooked or spoiled ground beef to lower your risk of illness.

Healthline adheres to strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. Last medical review: June 14, 2023 We avoid using tertiary references. Read our to find out more about how we make sure that our information is accurate and current.

  • Cooper, JV, et al. Communication quickly: Effects of modern lighting on the oxidation of fresh ground beef pubmed. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/27898846/.
  • Ground beef and food safety. (2016)
  • Iulietto, MF, et al. (2015) Meat spoilage: A review of a neglected change brought on by bacteria that produce ropy slime tandfonline. com/doi/full/10. 4081/ijas. 2015. 4011.
  • Weinroth, MD, et al. (2019). Changes in the microbiome of ground beef result from antimicrobial decontamination procedures and product storage ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC6550395/.

Our experts closely follow the health and wellness sector, and whenever fresh information is released, we update our articles.

Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Christina Guzik, BA, MBA

How Do I Know If Ground Beef Is Bad?

Here’s How To Tell If Ground Beef Has Gone Bad


What does spoiled ground beef smell like?

If your beef has gone bad, you might notice this even before opening the refrigerator. Beef that has been spoiled will begin to smell like ammonia or sulfur. In short, it won’t smell good.

What happens if you cook bad ground beef?

Bad ground beef can contain bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella, staphylococcus, clostridium, or E. What happens if you cook bad ground beef? coli—smelly, slimy, or foul-smelling ground beef should be discarded.

Can ground beef smell a little but not expired?

Fresh ground beef ought to have a light iron aroma that is neutral-smelling. If it has been in the package for a while and is getting close to its expiration date, it will start to emit a faint odor. However, if the odor is overpowering enough to make you wrinkle your nose, it’s time to throw it away.

Does ground beef go bad in the fridge?

As advised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ground beef can be kept in the fridge for up to two days after purchase. S. Department of Agriculture. It’s best to cook or freeze the ground beef by day two. Ground beef can be frozen for months, making it an excellent long-term solution.

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